Respecting Ourselves and Others

Today I found this writing I wrote a year ago and still feel it appropriate so I am reposting it as a blog.

Today I’m working on a presentation I’m giving tomorrow. The subject is on respect: respecting ourselves and others. I was thinking today about how many of us put so much value in what others think. I’m guilty; I try to tell myself I don’t care what others think, but there are times I really do. I think it’s human nature to especially want those we care about to have high esteem for us. We all want some level of acceptance. However, we care to a fault sometimes and maybe in the act of caring we try too hard and have the opposite effect. We must remember to have esteem for ourselves first.

I think an important factor in respecting others is allowing them to be themselves. Everyone is trying to find their way through life and sometimes that is expressed in ways that may be odd to others. God accepts and loves us no matter what. We need to see past what someone looks like, what they are wearing, sexual preference, race, the mistakes they make and whatever else we and they do that define who we are. Sometimes it just takes getting to know someone to understand them. Remember, we can choose who to spend our time with, but we shouldn’t choose what others do or force them to be somebody they are not. 

With that being said, we are all attracted to different things. For me that is strength. I find people who are strong inside and out attractive. We’ve probably all have heard it’s the inside that counts….well let me say this. I agree. I have dated very attractive men who became ugly very quickly as I got to know them. I also recall a man I dated years ago who wasn’t so attractive on the outside, but boy the inside was beautiful and that made me pursue. I think sometimes the outside is what catches our attention and makes us stop, but isn’t what makes us stay.

Ask yourself- how do I dress, act, speak, treat my body and others? Then ask yourself why do you do those things? The number one answer should be – I do it for myself. Example: I dress the way I do because I like this outfit, it’s comfortable and I feel great wearing it. I act a bit nutty at times because it makes me feel free and happy, I eat healthily and exercise because I’m stuck with this body the rest of my life. I want my body to feel good and have less illness, I treat others kind because its how I want to be treated.  I smile at others because they smile back and that feels good…. etc. You fill in the blanks.

Take the time for self-evaluation, but in doing so be kind to yourself and others and by all means do not compare yourselves to others. Our strengths are not always someone else’s strengths and vice-a-versa. Remember all we can do is our best. Set goals and hang with friends that support your goals. Be with those that love you for who you are today.

An Authentic Life

One would think a person of my age would have life all figured out.  Surprise, I do not. Approximately Six months ago, I decided to start living an authentic life.  I guess I could probably say the process started long before that, but 6 months ago was when I really decided to jump in with both feet and trust where God was leading me. I guess I always thought I had been authentic and felt I was a person of integrity.  Integrity meaning someone who is honest in all situations, even when no one is watching.  However, what I realized is that I wasn’t being honest with myself and I was suppressing deeper parts of who I am.  I was becoming more miserable, confused and lonely as each day passed.  I found myself living to make everyone else happy except myself.  Approximately a year ago, I found myself with no voice, realized I had suppressed many key traits of my personality, was controlled by others and felt like I had no future.  I’ve been a private person too and have developed through a lifetime of difficult experiences a mechanism to shut off and out things and people who cause pain.  Picture a cave in which I could retreat and a large metal gate I could slam shut where I would not be accessible to anyone.  I cut and run and shut out and move on.  With this mechanism in place, not too many people, if any, knew the full extent of the pain I felt.  I became good at smiling and laughing despite the pain.  I finally got to a point where I experienced my first episode of depression ever in my life.  I found myself in a place where I found no reason to continue in life and felt no one would even notice I was missing.  I was unsure where to turn because shoot…I work in an office with mental health and loads of people with depression.  I should be above depression…I can’t ask for help!  I struggled with feeling like a misfit and scared of judgment.  I felt if I admitted I was struggling with depression I would look less than or be a failure and be found conquered by life.  For a warrior that I truly am, being defeated is not an option.  It took the lowest day in my life and being found by someone who I believed at the time to be a good friend (who later betrayed me), scoop me up and helped me to realize just how depressed I was.  Depression is real and seeking help doesn’t mean you are less than.  It means you love yourself and you want to be better because you are of worth.  If you are one who is struggling with depression, please seek help.  Please know you are worth the help and there are many ways to receive it.  I now am doing so much better and reaching goals of great magnitude, though there still are days I need a hug.

So what is living an authentic life?  It is letting go of others’ expectations and having the courage to live life without fear of rejection.  It is truly living a life of integrity.  So Jan 2017, I began a journey of learning more about myself, taking leaps into unfamiliar territory.  In these past 6 months, I have learned so much about myself and what makes me happy. I have learned that I have fears I never knew I had.  I have learned that I have lived with regret, disappointment, and experiences that have been disabling but now am learning how to conquer and defeat these.  I have been fearfully, but courageously conquering large barriers and sifting out things and people in my life whom do not support my authentic self.  As I have done this, I have noticed that I attract people who also are striving to live authentic lives too.  I often have people come up in stores or other places that see my happiness and my authentic self and are attracted to this and start talking to me about the sparkle and happiness they see.  I have gained more friends in the last 6 months than I have in a long time.  Not just friends, but friends who also are solid, authentic people.  I’m so grateful to be surrounded by great people – good friends.  I feel so blessed to be moving in the right direction and taking each day as it comes.  I am getting so much better at standing up for myself and being blessed by being surrounded by those who nurture me.    I did not look for this road, but God placed it in front of me and have placed the people on it.  I know this because I felt at one point as if I was thrown over the shoulder of someone running in the opposite direction of everything that was familiar.  I’m in very unfamiliar territory, but it’s good.  I continue to grow and learn and that feels good.  When I find myself going to the cave and shutting the metal door, I make myself reopen it and step out into the clear air; maybe a bit frightened but still opening the gate and stepping out.  I’ll admit sometimes it takes a good friend to coax me out (thanks, sweet friend).  The process of living an authentic life is not easy, but worth it.  You will find that the people that enter your life perfectly fit in your life.

Take the time to sit with yourself and evaluate – are you living your authentic life?  If not, why?  The payoff is worth the efforts.

The Painful Yardstick

Growing up in the United States in the time period I did, spankings were common.  Heck, even the school principal had a paddle.  In my childhood home the device of preference from mom, that I luckily don’t recall experiencing, was the yardstick  It was either because I hide it, ran fast with my sassy mouth or was such a sweet piggy-tailed little girl it wasn’t necessary.   I’ll let you decide.  Anyway, today I was thinking about the yardstick and judgment.  I often find myself judging myself with the imaginary yard stick.  Then if measuring myself to whatever the yard stick represents at the moment isn’t bad enough, I take that stick and strike myself with it.  I know I am not alone because shoot I hear people beat themselves up all the time. In fact, a few days ago I sat on the floor of our lobby stroking the arm of a patient who was experiencing seizures while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. When she regain partial consciousness, she started crying and when I asked her what was making her sad at the moment, she said something to the effect that she was sorry for being a bother for having seizures.  My heart ached as I saw her beat herself with “the yardstick”.  I told her sweetie, I don’t know you but this one thing I will say, never apologize for being yourself.  I told her I was happy to be by her side and help was on the way.  

Later that same week, I had another experience as someone entered my office and spilled his inner thoughts to me.  I  was puzzled why was this somewhat stranger beating himself with “the yardstick” in my office.  Why was he sharing with me? As I thought this, he explained that I come across as a caring, trustful person and felt I would listen with compassion. I smiled and said yes your story is safe with me but please do not beat yourself up. It hurts yourself too much. I know because I’m an expert.  Heck, I even have given the stick to others to use on me.  I have learned how important it is to be a listener and a trait in which I’m trying to be better.

So why do I share this?   Richard Paul Evans said, “the well from which grace is only filled by sharing it with others”.  This is exactly the reason I started this blog.  To share my experiences, my thoughts and to break the yardstick so it can’t be used; can’t be used on me or others to use it on themselves. 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have learned many things this past year.  I have learned that I can’t make everyone happy but I can make myself happy. I have learned the importance of living an authentic life and seeing positive in all things.  It is important to not judge but we need to remember to include not judging ourselves.  Don’t apologize for being your authentic self.  You see when you live authentically, you naturally will attract those that make you happy. 

Here’s one more example from my life.  Years ago, I discontinued a friendship with a dear friend.  Why you ask?  No, it wasn’t because of a disagreement or anything like that.  It was because I was hiding from my past.  I didn’t want those in my “new” life to know about my stupid teenage mishaps and bad decisions and she knows them all.  She was the connection to painful memories.  When I decided to embrace all I am and not care what anyone has to say, I looked her up.  It’s been a sweet reunion.  I have realized that the “secrets” I was hiding weren’t that bad but that I was judging those experiences with a sharp yard stick. I feel so happy to be connected with her and many new friends.  I have nothing to hide and I truly feel blessed.  

When you find yourself judging others, beating yourself up for faults or mistakes, please throw out the yardstick. You are unique; one of a kind with purpose! Stay smiling friends!  

Training Wheels

I think the majority of us will describe learning to ride a bike similar to my own.  There I was with my bright pink bike, flower decals, the banana seat, pom poms on the handle bars and let’s not forget the cards in the spokes in order to make that cool flapping noise.  Then, of course, the training wheels to give the bike stability as I learned coordination of getting on and off the bike, and the steering and pedaling of the bike. Then the day comes when I felt confident in those skills that I wanted to ride it without the “baby” training wheels but lacked the confidence to not ride the bike without them.  I was scared of the unfamiliar and the “what if I fall” scenario.  As I saw the training wheels off and an unstable bike, I found myself saying, “I’m not ready”.  However, the person assisting knew my ability better than myself and told me everything would be okay.  As I went down the street with them running behind me holding the bike up, I gained confidence.  However, without notice, the person either knew I would be just fine on my own or they got too tired of running and let go.  There I was assuming the only reason I was surviving the bike ride is that of the person holding my bike.  I look back to thank them and saw them in the distance waving and yelling, “You got this”!  Wow, look at me!  Does this sound familiar?  Then a few things happen, we either keep on going or we crash and fall because either we don’t know how to stop or we lose confidence or maybe just haven’t obtained the full skill yet.

The training wheels though necessary at first will eventually make us so comfortable in the aid that we lose confidence in the ability to ride without them.  Life is similar.  We often get so comfortable in the familiar that we do not venture out into the unknown.  Good stuff can happen when the training wheels come off.

I have often said, I don’t want to be on the road I am on but God said, “you got this” and took off the training wheels and though He stands beside me he isn’t holding my bike stable.  God has said to me, your wings are ready, step out of the cocoon and fly.  So in this process of taking the training wheels of life off, trusting more in God and looking for the positive in all situations, finding strength in myself and showing up in life as my authentic self, I have learned and discovered many things.  Here is an incomplete list.

  1. I have been a strong individual but somewhere in time, I have lost some of that strength and I am working on recommitting myself to who I am
  2. I have more wounds and scars that affect many areas of my life than I ever realized and as I recognize them, I am working on healing them
  3. I struggle standing up for myself and never knew I did. I’m working on having more self-respect for myself and putting what is best for me in front of the self-serving needs of others
  4. I have a large group of friends, co-workers, and family who love me, support me and want nothing but good in my life. I am fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by positive, funny, happy people that rejoice when good things happen in my life and not only allow me to be my true self but love the person I am.
  5. My truest happiness comes when I show up in life as my authentic self.
  6. I can have a healthy relationship with God without being perfect.
  7. I think too far in the future and allow myself to worry about things out of my control. I am trying to live one day at a time and enjoy what each day brings in positive ways to me.
  8. I have learned that present and future situations cannot be judged based upon what has occurred in the past. Each situation, though may look similar, does not always end up the same.
  9. When things are different they lead to different results. We can’t continue to function in ways that never worked.
  10. I realize life works out better when I live one day at a time asking God what He would like me to do today and to not look too far in the future as this just causes worry about things that may never even occur.
  11. God has a plan for me and is preparing me for a time when I will be called to be His hands and feet.
  12. I have learned how to free myself from guilt and the bizarre thinking that I in some way, have deserved the manipulation and controlling abuse others. I deserve better and will not settle for less!
  13. Confusion is an internal mechanism inside of me that tells me what I am taking in does not fit in with what I know to be true; It doesn’t speak to my true self. I need to listen and examine whatever situation that is causing confusion more closely to understand the reasons behind it.
  14. When I hear negative thoughts about myself and where I’m at in life, I need to exam the reasons behind those thoughts because I have learned that there is no basis for many of those thoughts.
  15. There are so many lessons in life and many of them come from mistakes and difficult moments. I need to make sure I take the time to recognize the positive lessons instead of beating myself up for the mistake.
  16. Relationships shouldn’t be about needing someone; they should be about wanting someone. Sometimes it feels like a fine line but desirable relationships are those that add positive things, make us feel good about ourselves, and leave us happy and secure.  Great relationships are based on Sharing.
  17. I have always been a communicator but because of a long, unhealthy relationship I have learned to not communicate if I feel what I am going to say will end up in an argument or become difficult. I run from difficult communication and I am learning difficult communication are usually the most important to have.

This list, of course, is personal.  It is not complete as I learn new things about myself and life every day.  I encourage you today to take the time to think about your own life.  What have you learned so far on your journey?  What do you want to learn or be better at? Warm wishes as you march forward through you own journey.

A Charmed Life – Chose the Roses, Not the Thorns

Does anyone remember the show, “To Tell the Truth”?  If not, let me summarize it.  The show featured a panel of four celebrities whose object was to correctly identify which of the three contestants were telling the truth about who they were.  At the end of the panel questioning, they would vote on who was the real ________(fill in the name) and then asked, will the real ________ please stand up?

Well, I tell this because I have a friend named John.  He is such a positive person.  When I first met him, I found myself wondering if he was for real.  I asked myself if his actions were just some cover up and I felt like saying, will the real John please stand up!  Ok, I pretty much did ask that and found out he is the most genuine person I have ever met.  Today I want to share something powerful I have learned from life and recently retaught by John in more depth. (Thanks, John!).

If you are fortunate to be friends with John, you will hear him often say, “I live a charmed life”.  When John says he “lives a charmed life” is he expressing his life has and is perfect?  Does this mean he has had an easy life where everything has gone well?  Does this mean he has been void of heartache and sadness?  No, this just means he has chosen the charmed life.  Yes, chosen.  If you ask him the secret, he will tell you it is “having low expectations and NOT getting what you want but WANTING what you get”.  He will further describe the secret as looking for the positive in everything.

I grew up being told to count my blessings and would be sung a song about it too when I complained about things.  It made me so mad because I didn’t feel heard.  I just felt I was being told my concerns, disappointments, and sadness didn’t matter.  So as I have gone through life, I dislike that song and struggle when someone says you should count your blessings or here is a good one – be thankful for your challenges.  With that being said, I have to admit I have tried this counting blessing thing on my own terms and it actually works.  In fact, I also have to admit challenges and what seems like life disasters really lead to better and greener pastures if you use the lessons that are meant to be learned by going through them.  So despite my own struggles, lack of faith at times, life disasters, and disappointments, the truth is I live a charmed life.

There is a quote that explains what I am saying: “We always have a choice between two realities.  If you look for negative, you will find it.  If you look for positive, you will find it.  The reality in which we invest our energy in is the one that will exist”.  I love flowers especially white roses.  If I spent my time focusing on the thorns would I see the beauty of the rose?  No!

Here is an example of this in action.  Sunday I spent most of the day depressed.  Did I have reasons to be depressed? Yes!  However, here is the crucial moment.  Listen up!  I allowed myself to focus on the negative.  As I looked focused on the negative, I found more negative things to be depressed about.  It spiraled downward to a point of, what it seemed, a point of no return.  I allowed myself to be eaten up by the “Big White Shark” instead of swimming away as fast as I could.  I didn’t sleep most of the night and was refusing to take calls from anyone (for the most part).  As I drifted off, I heard in a dream the words from John about a charmed life.  I woke up and started the process of being thankful and giving thanks to God for the good in my life.  I started looking for the positive in all things and let me say today I feel awesome.  I have a great number of things to be happy about.  One is for the depression I had on Sunday because in that process I learned much of what I am writing about today.  I am surrounded by good people.  All my friends are genuine, honest, kind and supportive.  I had to drop my car at the mechanics which made me without a car all day, but guess what there is a thing called “LYFT” which took me where I needed to go today.  I am behind at work, but heck I have a job and enjoy those I work with.  I felt tired today but hey at least I have a bed to sleep in tonight.  It’s so hot out but hello I’m lucky enough to have air conditioning.  See how this works?

So friends chose to smell and enjoy the roses instead of looking for the thorns because if you look for the thorns you will be pricked by them.

If you are not sure where to start, begin with spending a few moments at the end of each day writing down the things you are thankful for that day.  Challenge yourself to do this for at least 30 days.  You will find that as you do this, a transformation will take place; the transformation of habitually seeing the positive in all situations.  If you have a day and feel like there were no positives, well then you are not trying.  If that occurs, tell me about your day and I promise I will find something positive for you to focus on.  Best Wishes for positive thinking!

Metaphor for Life

The above photo I took coming home from a fantastic trip with friends. I love this photo and I’ll tell you why. I see more than a photo of a sunset, I see a metaphor for life. Here are a few thoughts:
I first saw the beautiful sunset and thought how cool…I’m riding into the sunset. I thought this is the way to live. I’m with friends I love, laughing and a full heart of happiness as I ride into the sunset. I then looked again at the photo and realized all the bugs smashed on the windshield. I started laughing and thought yep, that’s life. Just when you think life is great and you got it all figured out, life becomes unclear like the dirty windshield.
I thought of the country song, “The Bug”. The chorus says: “sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug”. Isn’t that the truth? Life is one long road trip. Sometimes we have that shiny clean windshield in which we see life clearly through and we feel unstoppable as we drive towards that beautiful sunset (our intended destination) then we drive around that blind curve and get blindsided (like the bug) by the unexpected and we feel smashed. So sometimes we are the windshield and sometimes we are the bug. It’s just life. Life isn’t easy. We all have our level of challenges. At least in my experience just when I think I have it all figured out…wham! I become the smashed bug.
I think of a quote that goes something like this: God doesn’t give us anything more than we can handle but I think he has more faith in me than I do in myself. This is how I feel at times. I think you got to be kidding me…I already mastered this struggle (or at least I thought so) but here I am again with the same mistake, disappointments, fears, pain and tears. Luckily, the windshield doesn’t stay dirty forever. We go through periods of darkness, defeat, and sadness but there will be an upside as long as we have faith and hang in there. So grab the windshield cleaning solution, clean off the windshield and keep on driving friends until the sun sets on our lives having experienced all we could here and leaving with a smile on our face.

Importance of Positive Affirmations

Today I want to share thoughts with you about affirmations and positivity.  Of course, it would make sense to all of us that saying positive things to ourselves would be positive and self-criticism would be negative.  However, how many times a day, a week, a month or year do we tell ourselves negative things about what we do, should do, didn’t do?  Let me share a discovery with you.

I have found a huge shift in attitude and accomplishments when I use positive affirmations; especially when I say them out loud.  For example, I can remember when I started taking piano lessons 8 years ago.  I remember really struggling with a piece of music.  I found myself saying negative things to myself like, “I will never be able to learn this stuff” or  “What was I thinking, I will never be good enough”.  You name it, I said it.  I could not get through the piece.  I then took the approach of saying out loud, I’m amazing and can play this piece like no one else and you know what happened?  You got it, I was able to play.

Here are a few more short stories.  When I decided to go back to college to get my bachelor’s degree, I was in my 30s.  I was mentoring teenage girls, working full-time and had teenage kids of my own.  My plate was full.  I found myself struggling at times to write the many papers I needed to for assignments.  I would sit down and my mind would swarm with negative thoughts about myself.  Again, when I would say out loud, “I can do this”, the ideas would flow.  It was as if magic – so cool to see this in action.  Then more recently, I decided to pursue my love for writing and one of the first exercises in a class I took was writing the words, I am a Writer and then list the thoughts that came.  Once again, I heard the familiar negative thoughts of not being good enough. As I replaced those thoughts with I can write and I’m a writer the next thing I saw was me writing and setting up the website where you may be reading this at this moment.

I have discovered the power of positive thinking and saying positive affirmations to yourself out loud.  To explain a bit more I would like to a story about the holocaust.  I have always been fascinated with the holocaust for two reasons.  One, I can’t believe anyone would want to hurt another individual just because they were not the same race and or religion.  The other reason is I am amazed at the courageous stories that have been told by survivors.  I have read many of these stories and the one thing in common is the positive attitudes shown by these people.  My favorite told by Corrie Ten Boom in her book The Hiding Place, she speaks of horrendous circumstances.  The crowded barracks, the screams of abuse, and straw beds filled with fleas.  Under these circumstances, one would feel justified in negative thinking and sadness but for some like Corrie Ten Boom, they give thanks for the fleas.  They find positive thinking in negative circumstances.  You see the fleas in this situation kept the guards out which enabled the prisoners to read the bible. A bible they weren’t supposed to have but they found strength in their belief and in reading the bible.  The fleas which many may have found negative, those that chose to look at the positive, found the courage to get through a difficult time.

My point is, we have to be careful we do not tell ourselves negative misconceptions about who we are otherwise we will have difficulty reaching our full potential.  Instead, tell yourself great things about yourself even if you fully have not reached that potential yet because guaranteed you will become that person with continued effort.  Please stop filling up your life’s pack back with rocks that make it too heavy to achieve the journey to the top. People can be cruel, hurt us and have distorted views of who we are but please do not do that to yourself. So the next time you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself, speak up and tell yourself something positive.  Say it out loud and with conviction.  Practicing positive affirmations out loud on a daily basis will not only help you to be happier but I believe you will accomplish more in life.  You can’t achieve anything great if you do not believe you can.  We all have dreams and desires.  I believe the differences between those that reach them are the ones that don’t let negativity and discouragement get in their way.  Move forward and pursue your dreams and remember you are awesome and you can accomplish many things.

Alone and Loneliness

blog about the difference between alone and loneliness and some ways to combat loneliness

Alone and Loneliness seems to be interchangeable words right? I’m writing today to say not really.

You see you can be alone but not be lonely, but can be lonely and be alone.  You can have a large number of friends and social circle but still feel alone.  The reason I believe is because loneliness is an emotion and perception, not a matter of who is by your side. There is a difference between feeling alone and physically being alone.

I believe there are several causes for loneliness.  When I think of the times I have felt loneliness, it has been the times I have lacked self-esteem and/or did not have the desired companionship; the times I did not feel seen or heard despite having someone around.  When you don’t love or believe in yourself or allow your voice to be heard and be “present” in this life, then you lose yourself.  How can there be “self-esteem” when there is no self.  So if this is your issue, stay tuned in for a blog I’m writing regarding self-affirmations and positive thinking.  Let me say this, you will have a hard time connecting with anyone else if you can’t connect with yourself.  If you allow yourself to lack confidence, you will find that it leads to isolation and a complete circle of issues.

So how do you connect with yourself?  I have found the best way is to spend time with you own self.  I know you are going to tell me, who has time for that?  The truth is you must make time. Even if you only have 5 minutes before or after the kids go to bed or before or after work, etc.  Ask yourself thought provoking questions.  I have a bit more time because my kids are raised so I spend at least once a week taking time out for myself.  I refer to these as “artist dates” that I learned in the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  I find things to do that are new experiences and discover more deeply what makes me happy.  I ask myself tough questions about what I’m lacking or self-esteem issues I may have and trace them back to their beginnings.  In finding the source, you can begin the healing.

Maybe you are the person who does not struggle with self-esteem.  First off, congratulations because I have worked with many women in mentoring roles throughout my lifetime and I can tell you that not having self-esteem has been a universal issue.  So if you have self-esteem, why are you feeling lonely?  Maybe in your case, the loneliness comes from a lack of companionship.  You have to use the technique I discussed tracing a feeling back to its source.  Try some new hobbies.   What are the things you love to do?  Find a group that does those things then you will find like-minded people and possibly some great new friends.  To make friends, it may require getting out of your comfort zone, if you are a bit on the shy side.  I have a great friend that makes friends everywhere she goes.  I asked her once how she does it as I wanted to be more like her.  She told me, “I don’t like strangers”.  I love that and think about it often.  If you treat everyone around you as a friend, most of them will become your friend.  Then you will find it isn’t the absence of friends that is the problem, it is weeding out the ones who you really want to invest time with.

Then there is the hardest area of loneliness, relationship loneliness.  The challenge is to find a partner who you have your deepest friendship with while understanding and appreciating you.  A friend that makes you laugh and supports and encourages your dreams. This is the not only the person you love being with but more importantly, it is the person you Hate being without.  It’s the person you can’t stop thinking about and would give up things to be with because the things that are given up are not as important as what is gained. This is the person that you are willing to risk a broken heart for because if you are lucky, this person will make your heart beat that much stronger.

So take some time today and think about where you are at on your journey.  Do you lack self-esteem?  Do you need more time to discover more about yourself?  How can you make “artist dates” work in your life? Do you need healing or more friends?  Ask yourself the hard questions.  I wish you happiness, peace, and contentment. Share with us your ideas on how you combat loneliness.

Antidote for Discouragement, Despair and Funk

What’s your antidote for discouragement, despair, and funk? I was recently asked this question. Here are my thoughts and my answer on the subject. First of all, I want to express that depression is real and at times the only way to control depression is with counseling and anti-depressants. Seeking treatment doesn’t make you less of an individual; it only helps make you whole. What I am talking about today is not that level of discouragement. I’m talking about those days you get down on yourself and simply are in a funk. So I am going to refer to this as the DDF (Discouragement, despair, funk)

What I find ironic with life is the search for the DDF Quick fix. Drugs, alcohol, sex, attention seeking actions, etc. or there is withdrawing from life, self-pity mode (WSP). I will admit there are times I use the WSP style. Why do these answers seem to be easier? The problem is these answers are temporary, but seem easier and feel good at the moment but often lead to more sadness and emptiness. Let’s be real – lying in bed, snuggled in my covers, crying and wanting to sleep life away does not make things better. When I find myself in this situation, I have to call upon the warrior inside. Warrior Jen doesn’t allow me to linger and pout. I put on my armor, march right up to life and tell life to step aside I have things to accomplish. Yes, this can be hard, sometimes takes courage and definitely takes strength. I guarantee though if you find your warrior, you will become stronger and accomplish more. However, sometimes the armor becomes heavy and I find myself in the DDF phase again. If this happens, take a deep breath, take your antidote and shine up that armor and march back up to life. Jacob Nordby said, in his book Blessed Are the Weird, “Stand aside (life) and watch, for I will not pass this way again – at that moment Life surrenders in admiration….she (life) will not yield her treasures easily or to any who lack the courage to go all the way”. I love that. It’s so true. If you want to accomplish things in life, you have to push through the difficulty and shift through the crap.

I have a collection of antidote potions depending on the poison, but as I pondered this subject two words really sum it up – Emotional Connection. One of my top things is music. I love all music and really like the string instruments. If I need to be soothed, I love music of a piano or violin. If I’m upset and need confirmation of someone saying: you are damn right for being mad at whatever crappy thing happened, then it’s definitely not classical music. I have a whole bunch of playlists on my Spotify account. Music is an emotional connection for me. I also love the music of nature; leaves falling, rain, a gentle breeze, an owl hooting softly in the distance, water flowing etc. Exercise is also a great way for me to feel better. In the process of lifting weights, running, hiking, riding a bike, swimming etc., I feel the endorphins healing me. Most of my antidotes require time with me to think and process; to meditate, but yet there are other antidotes I have. I love humor. I try to see the humor in all things especially when things are ridiculously not going well. I try to think of what’s positive though the humor is much easier for me than the positive search. Then finding those things you just love to do. For me, I love to write. Writing is healing for me. When I write, I feel a warmness fill inside. Sitting down and creating a poem or jotting down a thought helps me to express my mood in a way to expel it from me. So, in summary, my antidotes require emotional connection whether it is a person, music, or a walk in nature. Do the things you love to do despite judgment, lack of it seeming to make sense or possibly the time to do them. Put your armor on and continue on with a positive attitude and positive people surrounding you. LET’S DO THIS!!!

What is your antidote is for DDF?

Here are my cliff notes:

  • Music: song, instruments and nature’s music (I love being in nature)
  • Exercise – love those endorphins
  • Time spent with friends with whom I can be myself, let loose and laugh a lot
  • Doing things that bring me pleasure
  • Finding humor and positive within the negative moment
  • Time writing to expel the emotion
  • Physical connection with someone I have emotional connection with
  • Remind myself I’m a warrior and life isn’t going to conquer me
  • Emotional Connection